UNESCO World Heritage Site #230: Muskauer Park / Park Muzakowski

UNESCO World Heritage Site #230: Muskauer Park / Park Mużakowski
UNESCO World Heritage Site #230: Muskauer Park / Park Mużakowski

From the World Heritage inscription:

Muskauer Park was the forerunner for new approaches to landscape design in cities, and influenced the development of landscape architecture as a discipline.

The site is the core zone of an extensive landscape park laid out by a leading European personality of the mid-19th century, Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau, around the New Castle of Muskauer on either side of the River Neisse, the border between Poland and Germany. The entire park extended around the town of Muskau and out into the surrounding farmed landscape. The area covers a total of 559.90 ha. Of this, 348 ha are within Poland and 211.90 ha within Germany. The park forms the starting point for an entirely different approach to the relationship between man and landscape. The design does not evoke classical landscapes or paradise, or provide enlightenment to some lost perfection, instead it is ‘painting with plants’, enhancing the inherent qualities of the existing landscape through embellishing its structures with trees, meadow and watercourses, to allow the landscape to merge with nature.

Pückler created an integrated landscape framework, extending into the town of Muskau. Green passages formed urban parks framing the areas for development, and the town becoming a design component in a utopian landscape. The structure of the Muskauer Park is focused on the New Castle, reconstructed by Pückler in the 1860s, according to the designs of the Prussian architect, Schinkel. A network of paths radiates out from the castle. Along them are ‘culminating points’ in the topography which create ideal viewpoints, each part of an intricately constructed network of wider interrelated views. The elements Pückler used were a combination of built and natural: bridges, watercourses, paths, ornamental buildings, woods, arboreta, scattered trees and the inherent geology of terraces, crags and the valley of the River Neisse. He wove all these into a visual picture of the highest aesthetic quality and one characterised by extraordinary simplicity and expansiveness. The landscape thus has a structure that can be appreciated for its aesthetic qualities. It also has strong intangible values – for the place it holds in the evolution of landscape design, and for its influence on what followed.

Muskauer Park is a site which straddles the German and Polish border. Most visitors will probably be coming to the German side where the palace and interpretative center is, however, the largest part of the park by area is actually in Poland.

Like many other world heritage sites in Germany, it was gutted during WWII and reconstructed in 1990’s. The middle of the park was an active border crossing zone with checkpoints until Poland entered the Schengen Area in 2007.

The palace is now a museum and interpretative center covering the life of Pückler and his thoughts on gardening.